Protesters March against Zimbabwe

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By Catherine Sasman WINDHOEK “Evil prevails when good people are silent,” read a placard at a protest march on Friday against purported state violence against the opposition in Zimbabwe. About 100 people representing several civil organizations in Namibia attended the march thatwas spearheaded by the Media Institute of Southern Africa [MISA]. “[We] are horrified and dismayed at the brutality displayed by the Zimbabwean government during the violent disbursement of peaceful demonstrators on Sunday, March 11,” said regional director of MISA, Kaitira Kandjii. “The events that have transpired in Zimbabwe spell a frightening turn in the political development of our region, especially in light of the deafening silence of our governments and political leaders,” continued Kandjii. The organization called for clarity and intervention from SADC governments aimed at restoring the “dignity of a people whom the rest of the SADC region has often looked to for guidance and solace in their time of political struggle”. Wielding a placard saying ‘Black on black oppression’, 60-year-old Anna Khoeses said she was there because she wanted President Robert Mugabe to take care of his own people. “I want Mugabe to take care of his own children. I want him to make his own people rich,” said Khoeses. “I have so many Zimbabwean children coming to me for water and food. They are struggling.” The protesters marched down Independence Avenue but were barred by the Namibian Police from staging their grievances directly in front of the Zimbabwean High Commission. There was also no one to receive their petition at the High Commission. The Zimbabwe government has come under increasing international scrutiny after its crackdown on civil and political rights in recent months. “We are happy that opposition parties in Parliament have spoken out against the blatant human rights situation in Zimbabwe,” declared Phil ya Nangoloh of the National Society for Human Rights [NSHR], adding, “We, however, should be very disturbed by the fact that President [Hifikepunye] Pohamba’s own ministers and members of Parliament, led by his foreign affairs minister, Marco Hausiku, in a chorus rejected a motion in Parliament to debate the Zimbabwe situation. Member of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Jacob Mafume, thanked the Namibian civil organisztions for their solidarity to the Zimbabwean population. The Law Society of Namibia elsewhere also condemned what it called the violation of human rights and rule of law on the part of the Zimbabwe government. “The violation of … fundamental rights and freedoms as well as the rule of law on Sunday [11 March], resulted in unwarranted violence and widespread detentions of Zimbabwean citizens. The abuse of political, church and community leaders and ordinary citizens by the authorities in Zimbabwe follows upon previous human rights abuses and disrespect for the rule of law in that country,” wrote the Law Society. Last Tuesday, Zimbabwe Ambassador to Namibia, Chipo Zingoda, denied all allegations of state violence against the Movement for Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tjvangirai, and others, stressing that her country was politically stable and sound, and described the 11 March events as “isolated incidents”. Political commentators in Namibia are, however, of the opinion that the economic and civil rights situation in that country are spiralling out of control, with President Mugabe losing his grip as opposition within ZANU-PF is mounting and as emerging civil society loses its patience with wholesale joblessness and economic hardship in that country. “There is no argument any longer that Zimbabwe is collapsing,” commented political analyst, Joseph Diescho. Inflation in Zimbabwe has soured to 1700 and unemployment is currently pegged at 80%. “I hope the worst is not yet to come,” added Diescho. “I really hope the National Assembly [of Namibia] will come out to denounce in the strongest possible way the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The situation there is a sad commentary of African leadership, and for a free-loving country like Namibia not to take a position is lamentable.”